Please Explain: Fungal Meningitis and Compounding Pharmacies

Friday, October 19, 2012

This week’s Please Explain looks at the outbreak of fungal meningitis from contaminated steroid shots. We’ll find out how epidemiologists trace outbreaks like this to their origins and what compounding pharmacies are and how they work. Dr. Emil Hiesiger, clinical associate professor of neurology, NYU  School of Medicine, and Dr. William Schaffner, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University and president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, explain.


Dr. Emil Hiesiger and Dr. William Schaffner

Comments [9]

Neil from Philadelphia

Enjoyed this show immensely. I would suggest however, that in order to capture a more detailed and precise explanation on the operation of compounding pharmacies, in future programs you might consider including a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) from a Pharmacy school (as you know, there are many such schools in the NY, NJ PA axis) or a professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences from one of these schools. I am a clinical pharmacist in Philadelphia and although your guest were very knowledgeable in their respective fields of expertise, they seemed somewhat unsure of the practice of compounding pharmacy, or the method by which the offending dosage form was prepared. A pharmacist who is an expert in this area (one from academia would be best) would be a solid contributor to this exchange. This is just a thought for a more complete conversation on this issue, of which I'm sure there will be many in coming weeks or months (it also is incumbent upon the media to present such complete discussions so that the public has an understanding of the evolving healthcare changes).

Oct. 22 2012 08:37 AM
Justin from new york

I think I should have phrased my question a little better. What alternatives would doctors recommend to steroid treatment for back pain? I think it is very telling that doctors rely heavily on pharmaceuticals to treat pain and seem to consistently recommend one size fits all protocols for treating pain. The nature of the pain should be considered before recommending pharmaceuticals that often have side effects and in this case very serious ones. Check out this study from Barbara Starfield M.D.

Oct. 19 2012 02:01 PM

It is unbelievable that your guest know of no other way to treat inflammation and pain other than giving steroids to people.
Acupuncture did wonders for my shoulder pain.

Oct. 19 2012 01:57 PM
Jasmine from NJ

I would like to add that compounding pharmacies are generally a safe, convenient, important part of our health care system. Compounding pharmacies are able to remove allergens, colors, flavors from the formula for any medication. Compounding pharmacies provide patients and doctors with an alternative to big-pharma produced medications and some negative side effects that can be associated with mass-produced meds. I work for a physician in NJ and we have been using a compounding pharmacy for year to give our patients more options, customized dosage, allergen free, alternatives to traditional medication. I think the compounding pharmacy in question had terrible practices, but most compounding pharmacies are great and people should learn more about them.

Oct. 19 2012 01:57 PM
Kate from Washington Heights

Surgery almost never works, but the medical establishment always pushes it. It's a scam and the doctors don't even seem to know or understand that they are scamming people.

Oct. 19 2012 01:54 PM
Linda from CT from Fairfield, CT

Was there a difference between patients who had the steroid injected as an epidural vs. injected as a facet block next to the spine?

Oct. 19 2012 01:50 PM
Justin Flores from new york

What alternatives would the doctors recommend to steroid injections for back pain since back pain is such a general term and a frequent complaint of patients?

Oct. 19 2012 01:48 PM
Carolyn from Queens

What is the responsibility of the doctors or nurses who gave these injections?
Would it have been possible to see the fungi in the vials that could have alerted the personnel that something was not quite right?

Oct. 19 2012 01:44 PM
Shawn from NJ

I would love to hear the speakers discuss the importance of these compounding pharmacies regarding keeping drug prices lower. I think people are complaining now about how there is such little oversight over these centers, yet they were plenty content to accept the low drug prices that these centers allow.

Oct. 19 2012 01:13 PM

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